Importing weapons - Specified purposes test

The Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 (the Regulations) provide a list of goods that are controlled on importation into Australia.

To import certain weapons into Australia, prior written permission from the Minister, or an authorised officer, is required. Applications for permission to import will only be considered when the weapons being imported comply with a legislated test.

One of the tests applicable to certain weapons is the specified purposes test. This test is applicable for goods being imported for:

  • licensed film armourers
  • supply of ammunition and components outside Australia
  • training, repairs, modification or testing
  • transhipment
  • a defence or police sanctioned activity
  • research or development
  • manufacture and assembly.

Goods applicable to the test

The specified purposes test is applicable to all weapons listed within Schedule 13 of the Regulations.

How to apply

All applications must be made in writing using a B710 Form — Application for Permission to Import Schedule 13 Weapons (443KB PDF). Standard permits are valid for six (6) months from the date of signature and for one (1) importation only.

Applications must be made prior to the importation of the goods. The assessment process takes approximately four (4) weeks from receipt by the processing office and may be extended if additional information is required or the application is considered incomplete.

In addition to the B710 Form, supporting documents must accompany an application to demonstrate that the importation satisfies the specified purposes test.

Lodgement of an application does not guarantee permission to import will be granted and goods should not be forwarded to Australia until notified of the approval in writing. Goods that are imported without a valid permit may be subject to seizure, disposal and/or prosecution.

Required supporting documents / import conditions

  • A copy of a licence or authorisation that demonstrates the importer is authorised to possess, use and/or deal in the goods for the importer’s intended use in accordance with the law of the State or Territory in which the goods are to be used if required.
  • If the goods are for use by a licenced film armourer a statement outlining the project the goods will be used for, including the name of the project and the start and finish dates, along with evidence that the goods have been requested by the production company, such as a purchase order, contract, agreement or letter from the production company.
  • If the goods are ammunition (or components of ammunition) for supply outside Australia a copy of a valid contract for the supply of the goods is required along with a copy of a valid export permit issued by the Department of Defence.
  • If the goods are for repairs, modification, testing, training, research or development by a government under a contract, a B711 Form —Evidence of Government Use for the Import of Schedule 13 Weapons (527KB PDF) signed by an appropriate representative of the government of the Commonwealth, or the government of a State, Territory, or the government of another country, or the United Nations; or a copy of the contract; is required. Contact details for the contract officer are required to enable the contract to be verified by the assessment officer.  Additionally, the goods are required to be exported after the completion of the activity and, therefore, a copy of a valid export permit issued by the Department of Defence is required
  • If the goods are for use in a sanctioned activity, a supporting letter or other document confirming the goods are for a sanctioned activity from the relevant representative of the Department of Defence, or law enforcement agency. The document must include details to enable the document to be verified by the assessment officer. Additionally, the goods are required to be exported after the completion of the activity and, therefore, a copy of a valid export permit issued by the Department of Defence is required.
  • If the goods are for research or development a supporting letter, contract, tender documents, or other document confirming the goods are for the purposes of research and development and the importer's principal or sole occupation is the research and development of weapons technology for the purposes of the government.
    Additionally, if the goods are required to be:
    • sold to the Commonwealth a State or Territory or a Certified Buyer - a copy of  a contract of sale or purchase order for the sale of the goods is required
    • destroyed or exported at the end of the research and development period - a valid export permit issued by the Department of Defence is required.
  • If the goods are for Manufacture and assembly a supporting letter, contract, tender documents, or other document confirming the goods are for the purposes of manufacture or assembly and the importer’s principal or sole occupation includes the manufacture or assembly of weapons technology for the purposes of an Australian or other government.
    Additionally, if the goods are required to be:
    • sold to the Australian Government or a Certified Buyer - a copy of  a contract of sale or purchase order for the sale of the goods is required
    • exported after manufacture or assembly:
      • a copy of a contract of sale or purchase order for the sale of the goods to another government is required.
      • a valid export permit issued by the Department of Defence is required at export.
  • Applications submitted without all required supporting documents will not be processed.

    Ongoing permits

    Regular and high volume commercial importers of goods for the purposes of the government of the Commonwealth, or the government of a State or Territory, or the government of another country may request ongoing permission to import to allow the use of one permit for multiple importations for a specified period. 

    A supporting letter indicating the reason for requiring an ongoing permission is required to be submitted with an application in addition to the supporting documents listed in this fact sheet.

    Ongoing permits may have additional conditions listed within, such as quarterly or ad hoc reporting requirements.

    United States Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty

    We are aware of an opportunity to reduce the annual cost of red tape for defence industry businesses that are members of the Australian Community to the Australia-United States Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty. This will be accomplished through an amendment to create an exemption for community members to import eligible Schedule 13 Defence Trade Cooperation Treaty goods, services and technology from the United States.

    Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty goods, services and technology are currently exempt from export controls when moving between the United States or Australia and are subject to stringent audit controls by both countries. More information on treaty goods is available at Department of Defence website.

    Assessment

    We might investigate the importers history as part of the application process. Previous instances of non-compliance with the import and export requirements may result in permission to import or ongoing permission to import being refused.

    The information provided in your application will be verified with the appropriate end user and any inconsistencies identified may be subject to investigation and subsequent legal action. Making a false or misleading statement to our officer is an offence under Section 234(1)(d) of the Customs Act 1901.